The N.J.-based firm, part of award-winning project team, offered engineering services for lighting and wayfinding signage in Newark’s gateway section
McLaren Engineering Group, a full-service firm, has been named a Urban Land Institute (ULI) Northern New Jersey (NNJ) Excellence Award winner as part of the project team that expanded Newark, N.J.’s Capital Improvement Program. McLaren provided the Newark Downtown District (NDD), a privately funded nonprofit organization, with a suite of engineering services to expand its Streetscape Design Project, garnering a ULI win for Best Public/Private Partnership. McLaren’s work included updates to the district’s wayfinding program, design of decorative festival lighting throughout the city and street lighting for previously unimproved sections of the district.
ULI NNJ’s Excellence Awards celebrate the projects and people that have defined the region’s real estate landscape over the past year. McLaren Engineering Group and fellow award winners were honored at a gala on Nov. 7 at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, N.J.
“McLaren Engineering Group is proud to be recognized by ULI NNJ for its part in aiding Newark’s steady growth,” said Jeremy D. Billig, P.E., the firm’s president. “The Newark Downtown District relied on us as a trusted partner, to help carry out their capital improvements – integrating more lighting and signage throughout the district.”
Upon initial completion, the program became the largest project in New Jersey to be financed by a special improvement district (SID). The streetscape has encompassed the gateway area of downtown Newark in its entirety, including nearly 600 properties. McLaren, led by Dawson Bloom, vice president of civil engineering, was responsible for a three-tiered improvement plan for the district’s lighting and signage. This included assessments, planning, coordination, design and construction administration services.
“The continuation of this important initiative has taken the program to previously untouched areas of the district,” said Bloom. “Our work has heightened the district’s aesthetic and we are happy to have contributed to the city’s positive, and award-winning, momentum.
For decorative street lighting, McLaren assessed previously unimproved areas of the district, determined the appropriate light configurations and prepared plans for implementation by PSE&G. To revamp the district’s wayfinding signage, McLaren utilized the city’s GIS data, met with stakeholders, and continues to work closely with the district staff to make recommendations for improvements and updates. To implement festival-style lighting throughout the community, McLaren worked closely with the district to pinpoint appropriate locations and developed lighting concepts.
“Beautification resulting from the NDD Streetscape, which included the expertise of McLaren Engineering Group, has positively impacted Newark’s downtown,” said Anthony McMillan, CEO of the Newark Downtown District. “Visitors are now able to walk through a vibrant, colorful district with benches, seasonal flowers and decorative streetlamps. This project has created a recognizable and inviting environment that boosts the city’s economy.”
Over a decade ago, the streetscape became a milestone for New Jersey’s most populous city. In May 2007, the NDD Board of Trustees approved $17.5 million in financing to transform 110 city blocks. The type and scope of this capital improvement for public streets had only been done a handful of times in the U.S. – including Grand Central Partnership and 34th Street Partnership in New York City, and the Center City District in Philadelphia.
The project was initially jumpstarted by $10 million in bonds from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). The financing was assembled in a cooperative effort between the Cory Booker administration, the Newark Municipal Council and the NDD. Phase One of the streetscape touched every block of the district, with improvements including planters, benches, trash receptacles, tree pits, decorative light poles, signage and granite corner treatments.
The wider project team recognized by ULI NNJ includes architects at Stantec Consulting and contractor, Berto Construction.
About McLaren Engineering Group
For over 40 years, McLaren Engineering Group has provided innovative, customized engineering solutions for more than 15,000 projects. With over 250 employees in 11 offices, McLaren is licensed in 49 states and serves 10 key markets. With experts in numerous engineering disciplines – and a passion for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking – McLaren can address any project’s specific range of design requirements with technical excellence. McLaren has offices in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., New York City, Albany, N.Y., Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Pa., Middletown, Conn., Baltimore, Roswell, Ga., Orlando, San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Oran, Algeria. www.mgmclaren.com
About the Newark Downtown District
The Newark Downtown District (NDD) is Newark’s special improvement district of the central business area and is a privately funded nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing downtown Newark by improving the economic viability of the central business district. Its key mission is to enhance the quality of life in Newark by providing supplemental cleaning and safety services, as well as physical improvement, marketing and event programs. The NDD is funded through a special assessment on district commercial and residential properties, billed and collected by the city’s tax collection department and turned over to the NDD for operation management. The NDD is overseen by a Board of Trustees consisting of business and property owners within the district and representatives of nonprofit organizations, as well as municipal officials and staff. www.downtownnewark.com.
About ULI Northern New Jersey
The mission of the Urban Land Institute is to provide responsible leadership in the use of land in order to enhance the total environment. ULI provides leadership on creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. For more information, visit: www.nnj.uli.org.
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